My Navy Time 11



Vechten voor het vaderland

                   Naval Aircraft Squadron 320

Wapenschild VSQ 320.

From November 10, 1975 to November 14, 1977 placed with the Aircraft Squadron 320 at the Naval Air Base "Valkenburg" in Valkenburg.

A sailing placement is of course the best thing you can experience at the Navy. But being placed with an operational aircraft squadron is also very special. And if you regularly have to fly along then that is of course the end, at least if you like flying. In my case, of course it was. I loved it when I had to go on a trip abroad again or when another aircraft had to be flown to Avio-Fokker in Woensdrecht for major maintenance. In the latter case, a warehouse manager always had to accompany the loose flying equipment to Avio-Fokker. If you went to Woensdrecht you always had a fixed seat at the observer window on the port side in the waist (that is behind the middle section of the plane). The radio radar technician always sat on the starboard side next to the warehouse manager. At take-off and during the flight, we had the task of checking all control wires in the back of the aircraft before take-off to see if everything ran freely in the guide wheels and when the jets were started we had to make sure that the jet flame, which was generated when igniting the the jets always come out the back of the jet outlet, was not too large. We were always in communication with the rest of the flight crew via an intercom. During such a flight to Woensdrecht, it always consisted of two pilots (one of which was a test pilot, usually a non-commissioned officer pilot), two flight engineers, a warehouse manager and a radio radar technician. The last two were often corporal, although that was not a must. Of course, this whole ritual also happened when a plane had to be picked up at Woensdrecht after major maintenance.

Dropping off was sometimes exciting. Because during the flight to Woensdrecht, the plane was flown after. That means that things are still being tested to see if it stayed intact or not. For example, the spoilers were sometimes tested. That means that you then free-falled about 3,000 feet as if a wing broke off. And when the plane was catch up again you had the feeling that you would shoot straight through the bottom of the plane with your chair.

It sometimes happened when we flew to Woensdrecht that I had to sit in the nose dome to show the way. Because in good weather we always flew according to the "house tree animal" principle. This meant that you simply flew to your destination via prominent points on the ground. As it always happened in the beginning of flight time. I loved sitting in the nose and when you slid your chair all the way forward you were all around in the plexiglass. Only you get a bit of a strange feeling when the pilot sent the plane very low over the water, which happened once when we encountered a frigate on our way to Woensdrecht and we flew very low at bridge height past the frigate. That was a very special sensation. You could wave at each other like that, of course that was done.

The supply team consisted of sergeant Herman Veer, corporals Ruud Nienkemper, Ted van Dartel and my person and warehouse managers Jan Duinsbergen, Nico Oppelaar and Jasper Visser. It was a good team and we were well matched. Our boss was the maintenance officer, the LTZE2OC Patijn and later the LTZSD2OC Dick van der Maal.

When we went on a trip abroad with a number of planes, a supply man always went with us. We did that in turn with the corporals and the first graders. So that everyone had a turn. The trips usually lasted about fourteen days and occasionally three weeks. That is something different than when you are on board a ship.

During my placement I visited the following places. Several times Woensdrecht Airforce Base to deliver Neptunes for major maintenance at Avio-Fokker and of course also pick them up again. RAF Base Saint Mawgan near Newquay on the southwest coast of England. I've been there several times. There were also large exercises where the Neptunes remained in the air for about nineteen hours. RAF Base Machrihanish on the west coast of Scotland at the Mull of Kintyre. The Portuguese Montijo Air Base opposite Lisbon and Sola Airbase south of Stavanger in Norway. Every year very large exercises were conducted from Sola with large numbers of ships and aircraft. There were landings on the coast with marines and drops with paratroopers.

The visit to Montijo was my first visit to Portugal. I had never been there with the sailing navy. The Portuguese, I experienced then, are very friendly people and very hospitable. I just didn't understand the language at all. It is a completely different language than Spanish. But with a lot of hands and feet I managed to get there, sometimes with the help of a little French and German. Few Portuguese spoke English, even on base. I often had to deal with the Portuguese at the base to arrange transport for material collection from Lisbon International Airport. Because you will always see, despite the fact that you take a lot of spare parts with you that you know from experience can all break, that equipment breaks down that you happen to not have with you. Then I ordered it by telegram in Valkenburg and then it was simply delivered by scheduled flight to the international airport in Lisbon, but then I had to pick it up myself and have it cleared through customs with, of course, someone from the Dutch consulate. You were completely on your own during these kinds of trips. And then it was very wise if you had a good understanding with the chief of maintenance. I've never had a problem with that.

I have only been to Sola (Norway) and the RAF-Base Machrihanish (Scotland) once. And that was also completely unexpected. At one point I had the day watch (from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.). And came back to our office in the hangar in the morning after the watch. I was informed by my supervisor that I should immediately put on a "carrot suit" (flight suit, so called because of the orange color) because I had to fly urgently on a Breguet Atlantic of VSQ 321 (aircraft squadron) to Sola and then to Machrihanish and back . And all that in one day, then I was back with my fasting (4.30 pm). The reason was that a toolbox from one of the aircraft engineers had disappeared, and before they wanted to call in the "Marechaussee" (Military Police), a non-commissioned officer had to go to Sola in Norway, where a number of our aircraft were detached at that time due to a major NATO exercise. to see if the box hadn't been accidentally taken on the trip. We were supposed to leave at 10:30 am, but we were still there at 11:00 am. A male nurse had already come on board and I wondered why he had to come along now. But I soon heard that. We had to wait for a doctor who had to come from The Hague to come along as well. They had to pick up a sergeant who had gone a bit crazy there at night because of the Aquavite and wanted to walk through a spinning airplane propeller from which they managed to pull him away just in time. So that was a journey for me. As a precaution, I had asked my boss to call Agnes (my wife) that I would probably be home later. Because of course I already saw the storm coming, it could never be half past four that we would be back. In the end we left around 12.30 in the afternoon, because of course the doctor had to be pulled away from behind his desk. It was the first time that I flew in an Atlantic and I must admit that it was a lot more pleasant to fly than in a Neptune. This was a plane with a pressurized cabin and normal seats for sitting. There were even a number of beds and a seat. While the Neptune was really an old type of war plane that rattled on all sides and drafted like hell. It was not double-walled and some shutters allowed you to look out through the cracks. But it did have something.

When I arrived in Sola, it turned out that the tool box had indeed been taken by accident, and I took it back with me. The sergeant was "sprayed flat" and put in a bed. The beer we had brought with us for Sola was unloaded, after which we set off for Scotland. Because there this aircraft had to be exchanged with a aircraft that could no longer participate operationally in the exercises due to all kinds of operational technical defects. It could only fly. Once there we had to change planes very quickly because the weather started to get worse, a storm was coming. We left Machrihanish just in time, I think fifteen minutes later it would not have been possible and we would have had to be grounded because of the storm. Finally, at half past twelve in the evening, I entered my house. Agnes was already sleeping. That had been an exciting day. But you can always expect something like that with an aircraft squadron.

I had a very good time at Aircraft Squadron 320 with great colleagues. I would like to go back there again. But unfortunately the Naval Aviation Service no longer exists. Our helicopters are now part of the Royal Dutch Air Force.

The Naval Aviation Service ceased to exist in 2008. the Orion aircraft present were sold to Germany and Portugal and the helicopters were integrated into the New Defense Helicopter Command of the Air Force Command.

This yellow-framed airplane has a very interesting story. If you want to read it, click on the button below.

Boven de Brequet Atlantic SP-13A van VSQ 321 beneden de SP-2H Neptune van VSQ 320

Above VSQ 321's Brequet Atlantic SP-13A below VSQ 320's SP-2H Neptune

De vervanger van de Neptune de Lockheed P3C Update II Orion

The replacement for the Neptune the Lockheed P3C Update II Orion

Images and additional information

(Most images can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Uitleg van het wapen van VSQ 320.

Mitchell bombers ready to take off.

Mitchell bombers ready to take off.
R.A.F. embleem tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog.

During the Second World War, the 320 squadron was commissioned and assigned to the Royal Air Force. Numerous wartime flights were carried out by this squadron and as a token of appreciation an RAF badge was awarded to this squadron by HM King George VI of England.

Box formation Mitchell bombers
De SP-2H Neptune 207 op de spot voor de hangaar.

The Neptune SP-2H (Lockheed)

Box formation Mitchell bombers

Technical Specification of the Neptune SP-2H (Lockheed)

Length                                                                                 27,77 m

Wing span                                                                            30,90 m

Height                                                                                   8,84 m

Propeller diameter                                                                 4,62 m

Power supplied by 2 Wright R-3350

18 cil. double star engines.                                               2x3750 pk

Starting power with water-methanol

Westinghouse J34-WE jet turbines.

Thrust in the take-off                                                    2x15,10 kN

Maximum speed incl. turbines at 3000 m                           635 km/u

Maximum speed piston engines only at 3000 m                  528 km/u

Crew                                                                                        8 - 12

Weight empty                                                                    19.080 kg

Maximum permissible take-off weight                              33.655 kg


Depth charges 250/350 lbs

Torpedo's Mark 44/47


AS12 wire-guided missiles

SS11 wire-guided missiles

5" missiles

HVAR 2-1/4" missiles

Searchlight, light intensity in candle at 120 Amp. 85,000,000

Exploded view of an SP-2H Neptune. When I flew along I always sat in the back on the port side (for the landlubbers among you, left) on the observer seat. And when I went to Woensdrecht I often sat in the nose dome to show the way. See photo below.

The Breguet Atlantic SP-13A of VSQ 321. I flew with this type once. It flew a lot more comfortably.

Nose dome that I regularly sat in when we flew to Woensdrecht.

Nose dome that I regularly sat in when we flew to Woensdrecht.

The photos below were taken during my first trip to Saint Mawgan near Newquay on the southwest coast of England.

Visit to Montijo Air Force Base near Lisbon, Portugal

The SP-2H 214 made a successful belly landing on 13 January 1977 on runway 17 of Valkenburg naval air station.

Due to a malfunction in the hydraulic system, one of the main wheels could not be extended, so that a 'wheels-up landing' had to be made. A few days earlier I was still in that plane when we picked it up from Woensdrecht after major maintenance. Three months later the plane flew again.


© 2000 PCL